Skip to main content

American Thrift (Part I)

Movies Preview

American Thrift (Part I)

Published 1962

Expansive tribute to the "Woman American," her thrifty purchasing habits, and the American system of mass production.

Run time 12:32
Producer Handy (Jam) Organization
Sponsor Chevrolet Division, General Motors Corporation
Audio/Visual Sd, C


Ken Smith sez: Lots of shiny new Corvairs, BelAirs and Impalas appear in this beautiful, Chevy-sponsored film, "a tribute to the American housewife," which sings the praises of "the woman American" and tells us that her primary function in life is "the romance and adventure of choosing." Those who produce goods have a responsibility to "bid for her fancy" and "charm her with choice offerings calculated to please." Hey, this film isn't about saving money -- it's about SPENDING it!
This was the last of the lavish Jam Handy "American" series of films for General Motors. A fifth title, American Choice, was temporarily cancelled in June, 1963, and never completed.
"American Thrift" is an absolute gold-mine of great stock footage clips!
In glorious color, we have 1960's housewives, families, amusement park, AV of Statue of Liberty, Excellent supermarket stuff, and excellent coins pouring / spilling (aka "Pennies from Heaven") ---Money, Money, Money!! Great lifestyle stuff here.
[start of film not xferred, not shotlisted]

worth noting: Short but excellent, crisp image of a shopping mall (what looks more like a strip mall with a large parking lot to today's observer). Looks much like the mall in In the Suburbs, but this is Michigan. We see Gales Coffee Shop and Food Giant. (23:05:41:22- 23:05:47:11)

worth noting: A woman walks from a fruit market to her car. The colors at the market are nice; lots of bright yellow. Beyond the fruit market is a gas station and a traffic light. (23:09:55:08- 23:10:03:20)

worth noting: A cargo train carries three levels of colorful cars along the track. (23:13:47:05- 23:13:54:06)

worth noting: Nice image of a bikini-clad woman and her leisurely dressed husband washing the car in their suburban driveway; greenery is all around them. (23:15:12:00- 23:15:20:12)

¥ 23:15:37:01- 23:15:47:24
Interesting walkways / sidewalks in a shopping area. Cement structures arch over people walking in between stores. We see mostly woman who clutch their purses.

worth noting: Great shot of junior high school students leaving school for the day. Floods of pre-teens walk towards the camera. (23:18:57:10- 23:19:04:07)

23:01:11:00 LS Family sits in living room
23:01:24:00 MS Woman looks at Caribbean travel brochure
23:02:19:00 CU Woman prepares dinner in suburban kitchen
23:03:07:00 MS Boy grimaces at injury; mother comes to take a look
23:03:27:00 MS Woman peels potatoes in kitchen
23:03:43:00 CU Boy plays bugle badly
23:04:01:00 MS Boy plays bugle well
23:04:15:00 MS Boys hang out on suburban stoop
23:04:21:00 LS Woman strolls in commercial shopping area
23:04:27:00 CU Hanging sign "U.S. National Bank"
23:04:46:00 LS Five brothers jostle each other
23:04:56:00 CU Camera pans boys faces from oldest to youngest
23:05:05:00 LS Five boys start to take off their pants
23:05:19:00 MS Hand-me-down scene: pants are handed down the line from the oldest boy
to the youngest
23:05:33:00 MS Little girl standing on staircase puts her hand over her mouth and laughs
23:05:37:00 LS Brothers chase little sister up the stairs
23:05:43:00 LS Camera pans suburban shopping center and parking lot
23:05:49:00 LS Large supermarket produce section; woman pushes shopping cart toward camera
23:05:55:00 CU Woman's smiling face in supermarket
23:05:57:00 CU Packaged foods, international and gourmet foods section; canned eel and octopus; rattlesnake
meat; chocolate covered ants
23:06:08:00 LS Woman browses aisles in busy supermarket, pausing briefly
23:06:19:00 LS Woman places paper sacks of grocery into her car in parking lot
23:06:29:00 LS Forklifts move wooden pallets loaded with boxes of packaged goods in warehouse
23:06:45:00 MS Woman with baby in shopping cart selects groceries
23:06:57:00 CU Two packages of ballpoint pens
23:07:01:00 MS Woman in supermarket considers two packages; selects one; returns other to rack
23:07:08:00 LS Couple in car drives looking for parking meters with time left on them
23:07:18:00 CU Man in driver's seat smiling behind steering wheel
23:07:19:00 CU Parking meter with "Time Expired" flag up
23:07:34:00 CU Parking meter not expired
23:07:39:00 CU Car fuel gauge with needle on empty
23:07:41:00 CU Parking meter red "Time Expired" flag pops up
23:07:46:00 MS Woman with baby in shopping cart examines merchandise
23:08:01:00 MS Salesman showing woman luggage
23:08:06:00 MS Saleswoman shows fabrics to woman in mink stole
23:08:13:00 CU Hand in white gloves caresses textile
23:08:15:00 MS People shopping for children's clothing in department store
23:08:36:00 MS Woman shopping for toys in department store
23:08:41:00 CU Stuffed animals / plush toys
23:08:53:00 MS Girl selects stuffed animal in store
23:09:03:00 MS Rack of fancy dresses is wheeled through store
23:09:20:00 MS Saleswoman shows dresses to woman in fur coat
23:09:29:00 MS Camera pans refrigerated case of cheeses
23:09:36:00 MS Woman selects packaged cheese from dairy case
23:09:44:00 MS Couple shops at outdoor produce stand, consulting with shopkeeper
23:09:48:00 CU Hand-lettered sign: "Special 4 lbs. 19 cents"
23:10:04:00 LS Log is cut into boards in lumber mill
23:10:14:00 CU Saw blade slices boards off log
23:10:32:00 LS Family gathers around father who is sitting in easy chair in living room;
they give him several presents
23:10:40:00 Montage of shots of products made from wood cellulose
23:11:02:00 LS Men stirring giant vats of red soup (probably Campbell's tomato)
23:11:10:00 CU Hot red boiling soup in vat
23:11:17:00 MS Shiny tin cans descend through automated machinery
23:11:22:00 MS Shiny tin soup cans move along machinery which fills them with soup
23:11:41:00 CU Cans of Campbell's mushroom soup are mechanically put into shipping boxes
23:11:49:00 CU Water being added to Campbell's soup (at kitchen sink) in preparation for
23:12:01:00 LS Aerial view of factory
23:12:24:00 LS Truck travels on private industrial road
23:12:27:00 LS Gate opens for truck
23:12:51:00 MS Canister vacuum cleaner in use in living room
23:13:01:00 CU Stainless steel kitchen sink; zoom out to show entire kitchen
23:13:22:00 CU Tray of ice cream cones
23:13:24:00 MS Mother calls children to come get ice cream
23:13:28:00 LS Children vie for ice cream cones
23:13:42:00 LS Cars being transported on giant truck on highway
23:13:49:00 LS Cars being transported on railroad
23:13:56:00 LS Man and woman walking in picturescape landscape of the American Southwest
23:14:02:00 LS Children run out of the house and scramble into the family station wagon; which mother and father load up for a picnic
23:14:10:00 LS Two men and their sets of golf clubs leave car and head to course
23:14:18:00 LS People enter suburban house to attend community bazaar
23:14:26:00 MS Couple with back to camera sit on wooden fence gazing into golden sunset and
hold hands
23:14:36:00 LS Husband and wife shown in suburban driveway with their two cars; both are going to work in the morning. Husbands leans down into car to kiss his wife goodbye.
Narrator speaks about career women
23:15:01:00 LS Family members kiss young woman goodbye in front of car. (She is going to college)
23:15:04:00 LS Men use surveying equipment at construction site
23:15:17:00 LS Man and woman in casual clothes wash car in suburban driveway
23:15:23:00 MS Woman dumps moth flakes into garment bags in closet
23:15:31:00 MS Side by side up and down escalators
23:15:44:00 LS Outdoor shopping center
23:15:54:00 LS Two women walking arm in arm with back to camera pause in front of dress shop window
23:16:00:00 LS POV interior shoe store; women gaze into window display; they enter store
23:16:15:00 MS Interior fully stocked refrigerator
23:16:17:00 MS Woman selects dish from refrigerator and places it in oven
23:16:32:00 CU Hand setting clock and timer on Frigidaire oven
23:16:41:00 CU Woman's hands set electric kitchen timer
23:16:47:00 MS Woman checks household thermostat
23:16:50:00 MS Woman puts on white gloves; picks up her handbag and exits through door
23:16:59:00 CU Oven temperature dial
23:17:01:00 CU Electric coils (hot) in oven interior
23:17:03:00 CU Electric coffee percolator plugged into electric timer
23:17:06:00 CU Household thermostat
23:17:07:00 CU Lamp in house turns on
23:17:10:00 MS Woman bearing groceries enters through door
23:17:20:00 LS Woman walks through kitchen; peeks to check food in oven; smiles
23:17:28:00 LS Woman walks on street through shopping district
23:17:32:00 Zoom in on man working on window display; he leers at woman walking by
23:17:45:00 LS Well-dressed people gather in front, then enter building; a church
23:18:10:00 MS African-American mother fusses over daughter's dress; they are dressed
for church
23:18:12:00 MS Mother gives child some coins which she places in a piggybank
23:18:32:00 LS Line of relatives looking at college graduates in caps and gowns
23:18:38:00 MS Happy family members wave at relative
23:18:49:00 LS Many children frolic in school playground; slide; swings
23:19:00:00 LS Children exit school building
23:19:06:00 MS Children tumbling through air against background of blue sky
23:19:10:00 LS Many children gamboling about on many trampolines
23:19:11:00 MS Monkey frolics at zoo
23:19:17:00 LS Cheerleaders tumble at football game while stadium celebrates
23:19:21:00 MS Man and woman waterski
23:19:26:00 LS Person skis down snowy slope toward camera
23:19:31:00 MS Grandmother and grandson play checkers
23:19:38:00 LS Ferris wheel
23:19:45:00 LS Crowd scene in amusement park midway (Texas State Fair grounds, Dallas)
23:19:53:00 LS Two people stand inside curve of giant rock outcropping in the Southwest
Camera zooms out to show how small they appear.
23:20:00:00 LS Camera pans neon signs of Chinese restaurants at night (probably
Chinatown in downtown Los Angeles)
23:20:00:00 LS Camera pans wheat field
23:20:24:00 Aerial views: factories; farms; cloverleaf highways
23:20:47:00 MS Hundreds of copper pennies fall into frame, making giant pile
23:20:15:00 LS Golden Gate bridge with Statue of Liberty superimposed
23:20:40:00 LS Chicago skyline with Statue of Liberty superimposed
23:21:49:00 LS Jefferson Memorial exterior
23:22:00:00 LS Lincoln Memorial exterior
23:22:17:00 LS Statue of Liberty
23:22:25:00 LS Aerial view Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island; camera zooms in
WOMEN HOUSEWORK FAMILIES HOMES HOUSES ADVERTISING DAILY LIFE STATUES LINCOLN, ABRAHAM WHITE GLOVES PENNIES COINS CITIES TREES SCENICS SUBURBS BUDGETS MONEY HUSBANDS WIVES PARENTS CHILDREN BOYS GIRLS MEN RUNNING PETS DOGS ANIMALS PET SHOPS PUPPIES MYTHOLOGY Chevrolet Division, General Motors Corp. Families Leisure Relaxation 1960s Meals Food preparation Kitchens Women Housewives Housework Gender roles Trumpets Musical instruments Children Mothers Fathers Banks Brothers Undressing Hand-me-downs Supermarkets Stores Shopping Parking meters Driving Parking Toy stores Soup Campbell's soup Food (processing) Industry Ladles Vats Factories Vacuum cleaners Cleaning Ice cream cones Transportation Automobiles (transportation of) Golf Sports Picnics Romance Couples Sunsets Escalators Shopping malls Graduations Playgrounds Trampolines Zoos Gorillas State fairs Texas State Fair Midways Football Water skiing Skiing (snow) Chess Ferris wheels Wheatfields Infrastructure Pennies Thrift Wallace, Mike (narrator) Money Statue of Liberty Bridges (Golden Gate) Capitalism Free enterprise Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco, Calif. (scenics) First aid Boys Stores (vegetable markets) Kisses Marriage Women workers (white-collar) Labor-saving devices Ovens Electricity Automation Families (African American) Daughters Church Religion Idealized imagery Cans (tin) Canning Gender roles


Reviewer: LBFC - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 28, 2012
Subject: How Do I receive the Legal Rights to this?
I want to use this in a documentary how do I get the rights?
Reviewer: Marysz - favoritefavoritefavorite - March 9, 2004
Subject: American Ennui
A prosaic 1962 film by Chevrolet that starts out extolling the penny-pinching American woman, meanders into American manufacturing and ends with a shot of the Statue of Liberty as the announcer intones that America gives us the liberty to buy what we each may choose. I cant help comparing this film to an earlier Chevrolet film in the Archives: Leave It To Roll-Oh. In that 1940 film, a chivalrous robot does a womans housework while she sits languidly in the living room reading magazines. Contrast that with this film, in which theres not a helpful robot in sight and the wives do all the housework and budgeting. Not only did Roll-Oh do housework, he took great care of Chevrolets and there are lots of shots of a nameless, glamorous woman driving around by herselffree of responsibilities. The America in American Thrift is a much drabber and less interesting place. We see many, many scenes of women dressed in two piece ensembles pushing carts around supermarkets while the announcer extols the choices they have. The Chevrolet in Roll-Oh signified mobility and allure. The Chevrolets in American Thrift are simply contraptions that take people from one place to another. Even though it was made in 1962, this film reflects American values of the fifties at their most stultifying. True, we do see scenes with African-Americans and career women that hint at the upcoming social changes of the sixties. The manufacturing sequences have a bittersweet qualitythis is a productive America that manufactured its own goodsan America that is gone forever.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavorite - December 26, 2002
Subject: This film has canned eel.
Hard to pinpoint on what subject the film is trying to focus on, starts out by celebrating our forefathers, then on the american family saving money, then to the woman in the home, then back to saving habits, then to the woman again etc. Film presents viewpoints that are very hard to believe circa 1962, in regards to what position the woman had in the American home. Are we really stupid to believe that the Father left all the final money decisions to Mother? I don't think so.
Worth watching for the Supermarket scenes though, which showcase such wonderful items such as records (I remember that!), tinned Eel and tinned octopus. Yum. And check that spelling outside. Is liquor REALLY spelled liquir?
Reviewer: Christine Hennig - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 8, 2002
Subject: American Thrift (Full Film)
This third General Motors "American" film puports to be a tribute to the "Woman American" and her thrifty ways. Basically, the point being made is that Americans are so darn thrifty, especially American women, and our country thrives because of it. The problem with this idea is that this was made in the early 60s, a time when throw-away consumer culture had pretty much taken over, and economic wealth was (and is today) not based on thrift, but on spending, spending, and more spending. The emphasis on savings in the film will particularly make you snicker. Well-dressed wives are shown carefully saving for the things they want in little budget envelopes, not whipping out credit cards like in reality. The point of all of this is not clearyou'd think that a big company like GM would make a film singing the praises of spending and credit instead of saving and thriftunless it was to lull the indebted public into a false sense of security, at least until the bills come. Apart from that, this film is a wonderful slice of idealized early-60s middle-class life, complete with spotless homes, perfect families, people dressing up for church, women and girls wearing little white gloves when they go shopping, and even a token black family. It's not nearly as sexist as you'd expect given its themeit's even admitted that some women have careers (though these are made possible by innovations in household appliances) and some families can actually afford to send their daughters to college! It's also much less car-oriented than the other "American" films, perhaps because cars were more associated with men at the time.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****. Also available on Lifestyles USA, Vol. 1.
SIMILAR ITEMS (based on metadata)
Prelinger Archives
by Handy (Jam) Organization
eye 16,568
favorite 55
comment 4
favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite ( 4 reviews )
Prelinger Archives
by Handy (Jam) Organization
eye 19,075
favorite 59
comment 11
favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite ( 11 reviews )
Prelinger Archives
by Telamerica, Inc.
eye 47,359
favorite 58
comment 13
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite ( 13 reviews )
Prelinger Archives
by Handy (Jam) Organization
eye 23,696
favorite 45
comment 8
favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite ( 8 reviews )
Prelinger Archives
by Handy (Jam) Organization
eye 8,117
favorite 4
comment 2
favoritefavoritefavorite ( 2 reviews )
Prelinger Archives
by Handy (Jam) Organization
eye 34,824
favorite 126
comment 11
favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite ( 11 reviews )
Prelinger Archives
by Handy (Jam) Organization
eye 13,042
favorite 25
comment 4
favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite ( 4 reviews )
Prelinger Archives
by Handy (Jam) Organization
eye 35,826
favorite 55
comment 3
favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite ( 3 reviews )
Prelinger Archives
by Handy (Jam) Organization
eye 3,418
favorite 4
comment 2
favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite ( 2 reviews )
Prelinger Archives
by Handy (Jam) Organization
eye 17,398
favorite 44
comment 6
favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite ( 6 reviews )